While the name of its parent company literally means “the people’s car”, today Good price or no dice The Volkswagen Passat W8 is a car reserved for the privileged few; those who are willing to accept certain quirks and expenses. Let’s decide what this limited audience should legitimately pay for the experience.
Speaking of experience, the only thing that dampened the enthusiasm last Friday 2001 Chevrolet Camaro SS SLP was the absent experience of being able to pop a clutch or row through a series of gears, as it was equipped with an automatic. Had it been a stick, its price of $12,995 might have been more palatable. With its automatic transmission, however, it ended up in a narrow but ultimate loss of 58% with no dice.
Based on Friday’s response, we should note that today 2004 Volkswagen Passat W8 fortunately has a stick. And that’s just one of the many tricks he has up his metaphorical sleeve.
This top-of-the-range sedan is a model that would not have existed without one man, then president of the Volkswagen group, Ferdinand Piëch. Grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, Piëch had a vision to move the entire Volkswagen brand upmarket. As such, he was the driving force behind such fancy cars as this fancy Passat and the even fancy Phaeton.
His vision was that Volkswagen needed to expand its market presence upwards in order to increase its profits. This resulted in cars like the high-end Phaeton, the sophisticated off-road Touareg and the most expensive Passat the world has ever seen.
Volkswagen introduced the Passat nameplate in 1973 as a fastback lookalike of Audi’s Model 80 sedan and coupe. Both models shared the same station wagon body style with brand separation managed by fitting different grilles, badges and lights. The Passat was supposed to be a sensible family car, but not really anything extraordinary.
Over the years, VW has switched between Audi-style inline cantilever engines and Golf-like transverse layouts for each of the Passat’s redesigns. By the time the B5 dropped in 1997, it was again using the longitudinal layout and the same AWD setup as Audi’s Quattro, just rebranded for Volkswagen Duty as the 4Motion. This generation of Passat was initially offered with a series of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, complemented by the 2.8-litre four-cam V6, a mainstay of the competing Audi range at the time.
Everything would change at the end of 2001 with the introduction of the W8 engine in the newly restyled Passat. Alarmingly described in retrospect as a “test bed” for later W12 and W16 engines, this engine would eventually find its way into much more expensive cars. The 271-hp eight-cylinder would be slotted into the Passat as part of an effort to make a shorter jump between it and the upcoming Phaeton. In configuration, the engine consisted of two VR6 engines, each with two cylinders cut and then unholy married. Shorter than a traditional V8, it still completely fills the Passat’s engine bay.
This one is available in Reflex Silver with black leather and a remarkable 193,128 miles on the odometer. How amazing is it that a car of such complexity has come this far in life? According to the seller, this is one of only four W8 cars in this color scheme in this model year.
The seller also describes this as an “early 2004” car, as evidenced by its smaller side mirrors. Unfortunately, the original fourteen-spoke Madra wheels do not come with the car. Apparently neither are the BBS alloys the car wears in the ad. According to the seller, it will come with other wheels but the ad does not disclose what they might be. I’m hoping for steelies with a good offset.
Aesthetically, the car is beautiful but not perfect. There are a number of scuffs on the bumpers, front and rear. There also appear to be dents to the curb side rear wheel arch and related damage to the rear door rubbing strip on that side. Inside, the driver’s seat suffered a tear in its leather upholstery and the steering wheel seems to need a good cleaning. On the plus side, there are rubber monster mats on the floor, which means the mat below should be in good condition. Nothing else looks untoward here and the dash still sports its factory stereo.
According to the announcement, the car also does not suffer from obvious mechanical diseases. The seller claims it “runs amazing” and has “NO check engine lights”. Service and repair records have been kept since new on this two-owner car. The only major fly in the ointment in the ad is this:
The exhaust is open at the moment before the mufflers because that sounds amazing…it can be connected if you want, but why? Once you hear that famous “working grunt” from that W8 engine, you’ll understand and appreciate it.
Now, I agree that VW’s W8 has a distinctive, pleasing growl, but why is the exhaust cut before the mufflers? Based on this disclosure, I would like to check and make sure he still has his cats up. Weird exhaust or not, at least the car comes with a clean title.
With all that in mind, let’s now turn our attention to this Passat’s $8,800 price tag. So many competing cars could be had for it, but few would have the weird history of the Passat W8. And it looks like there’s a lot of life left in this one.
What are you saying? Is this high-end Passat worth the asking $8,800? Or, at this price, would you prefer W8 for something cheaper to come?
H/T to James Chase for the hookup!
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